Pace of play is something that has been talked about seemingly for years without any actual action. Well that's about to change as commissioner Rob Manfred announced that rule changes to speed up the game will go into effect for the 2018 MLB season.
Manfred didn't go into specifics as to what new rules will be implemented but said they will be made public prior to the start of Spring Training which begins February 23.
"There are going to be rule changes with respect to pace of play for the 2018 season," Manfred said during MLB's Media Day. "You'll know about those rule changes before we start playing spring training games. One way or the other, those changes are going to be as a result of an agreement with the MLBPA. It's either going to be a specific agreement on specific rule changes or they'll be rule changes that we put in place as a result of the provision in the basic agreement that allows us to make that change.
It's important that Manfred noted this came about with an agreement with the Player's Association. Last month the MLBPA rejected MLB's proposal to add a 20-second pitch clock. Afterwards, Manfred gave the players a proposal depending on how long average game time is in 2018.
MLB’s latest pace-of-play proposal, per sources: No pitch clock in ‘18. If games are 2:55 or longer, 18-second clock for ‘19 with no runners on base starting May 1, with ball-strike penalty. If in ‘19 games are 2:50 or longer, additional 20-second clock with runners on in ‘20.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 1, 2018
It's going to be quite an effort for the players to get down to an average game time of 2:55. Last season the average game lasted 3 hours and 8 minutes which is the longest game length in the history of the sport. Only once since the 2007 season has the average game time been less than 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Other things that could be tinkered with are limits on mound visits by catchers or pitcher changes. Currently a catcher can visit the mound however many times he wants to in a game while pitching coaches and/or managers are limited to one visit per inning. Something that has been discussed in regards to pitcher changes is that every pitcher has to face at least two batters. That would minimize the LOOGY (left-handed one out guy) who comes in to face one batter before leaving.
Any rule changes proposed would have to be approved by the 30 MLB owners on a majority vote. That is expected to be the easiest part of this process as many owners want the pace of play to increase more so than the players.